Sri Lanka

15/04/2019: Under construction. Check back soon!!! 

=> going back 7 years in my memories takes some time 🙂

2012 – Our first travel far away was towards Sri Lanka. It was also the first time we would travel longer than 9 to 10 days. Back in the time Marie-Claire was not yet convinced it would be something for her, but boy, what was she wrong 🙂

We decided to take a safe approach both from organisational and destination point of view. We joined a group travel from Shoestring towards Sri Lank. Looking back at it, this was a good and safe choice. Sri Lanka is quite civilized and the travel ritme was quite comfortable. So where the hotels, the roads, the daily distance to cover, … and many more.

Day 1: Amsterdam – Colombo

Day 2: Colombo – Marawila

Day 3: Marawila

Day 4: Marawila – Sigirya

Day 5: Sigirya – Polonnaruwa

Day 6: Polonnaruwa (Anuradhapura & Mihitale)

Day 7: Plonnaruwa – Dambulla – Spice Garden – Kandy

Day 8: Kandy

Day 9: Kandy – Nuwara Eliya

Day 10: Nuwara Eliya – Bandarawella

Day 11: Bandarawella

Day 12: Bandarawella – Kataragama – Tissamaharama

Day 13: Tissamaharama – Hikkaduwa Beach

Day 14: Hikkaduwa Beach

Day 15: Hikkaduwa Beach – Negombo

Day 16: Katunayake – Colombo – Amsterdam

Day 1: Amsterdam

Yes! We leave towards Sri Lanka. From Schiphol we fly over Dubai to Katunayake, the main airport of Sri Lanka.

 

Day 2: Colombo – Marawila

From the airport we have a bus trip of about 1 hour (40 km) towards Marawila which lies at a long quiet beach in a tropical environment. It’s a relaxed area which is not yet discovered by tourists. Here we taste from day one the real Sri Lanka.

We stay in a nice hotel with swimming pool, where we take the time to meet the other group members while having a local Lion Beer. We stayed in rooms at the pool side. Each room was a small separate building with a bed and bathroom. Luckily there was airco as well. 

Hotel pool
Hotel pool
Beach
Beach
Dutch Channels
Dutch Channels

Day 3: Marawila

Today we explored the “Dutch Channels” with a small motorboat. We go in small creeks, see palm trees, remote small houses, woman that do laundry, illegal Arrack distilleries. We tried the Arrack, but it was not that special.

In the afternoon we headed to Negombo to visit a local fish market which is nothing to be compared with European fish market. They don’t have ice, freezers and that in combination with the heat, it smells like hell. At the beach they were drying the fish, which was smelly as well.

Local fish market
Local fish market
No ice for the fish
No ice for the fish
Dyring fish at the beach
Dyring fish at the beach

End of the day we came back at the hotel, which had next to the beach also access to a mangrove where you can water ski. Ideally to check number 9 on Tom his bucket list. The mangrove was the perfect place to learn to water ski as the waves are acceptable and the water was perfect of temperature. It did not take us long before we were effectively skiing.

The European guide starts with some brief technical explanation and then you have to do some exercises on the dry. You learn the movement to get up from in the water to a standing position. When you did a few time, you are ready to go into the water. There is a bar next to the boat to which you hold yourself and when the boats accelerates you can see to get up. As the bar is next to the boat, you don’t have waves and it’s rather easy. Depending on your skills the guide will decide whether you stay at the bar next to the boat or that you can try the real thing. Trying to stand behind the boat is not that difficult according to us, but maybe it was linked to our snowboard and ski skills. It is also a big difference if you stay on the “table wave” behind the boat or if you cross the real waves. As beginner it’s better to take it easy. At the end of our session we were able to make a 180 degree turn behind the boat on the river. Like that you don’t have to stop in the water, waiting till the boat turn and get back up again. For a fist session we made quite some progress and I still cherish this moment. It was cool to water ski. Although it were just the basics, conclusion is the same: we did it! 🙂

Water ski at the bar

Day 4: Marawila – Sigirya

Today we have a trip of about 5 hours (180 km) through tropical plantations towards Sigiriya. This place is famous for its rock fort (aka Lion rock). At the feet of the real fort two giant lion paws guard the fort. Through spiral stairs you can go to the top while passing some fresco’s of King Kasyapa. These stairs are quite busy as you have a constant flow of people going up and going down. Mostly you can safely pass each other, but sometimes you can only go in one single direction. With the temperature and the humidity it was quite a climb. But you should not worry too much Everyone can make it. The view from the top is magnificent. One of the things you can’t catch on the camera.

Day 5: Sigirya – Polonnaruwa

Today we have a 1 hour 30 minutes drive (72 km) towards Polonnaruwa, where you can visit the old ruins. We visited the ruins by bike which where delivered to our hotel and with a gentle ride we arrived at the main entrance of the site. Polonnaruwa, the second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, was established in 10th century. The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage Site. As the buildings are some distance away from each other, exploring the site by bike is really the best you can do.

Day 6: Polonnaruwa (Anuradhapura)

Today we visit Anuradhapura (I still like this name, say it strong and quick, it sounds like cursing), which might have been the most beautiful city 2000 years ago. Next to the huge stupa’s you have the Bodhi tree which is one of the most sacred Buddhist places.

Day 7: Plonnaruwa – Dambulla – Spice Garden – Kandy

 We headed direction of Dambulla, a town situated in the Matale, Central Province of Sri Lanka, where we would visit the Golden Temple of Dambulla.
 
After the visit of the Dambulla Royal Cave Temple we went to a Spice Garden. When looking back and being more experienced this is a kind of tourist attraction and maybe even a tourist trap. Yes, we could visit the garden and saw some special hers, flowers and trees, but near the end we were guided to a pavilion where we were offered a back massage. We had to pay a small fee from the group money, but then we were offered some products. It all felt a bit too much set up. It was not all bad, but it’s certainly not a must visit.
 
Probably this garden: Tourist Trap Garden.
Dambulla Royal Cave Temple
Dambulla Royal Cave Temple
Dambulla Royal Cave Temple
Day 8: Kandy
 

Visit elephant orphanage in Pinnawala.

Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya

Visit Local garden

Visit typical dancing

Tempel van de Tand

Day 9: Kandy – Nuwara Eliya

Visit Tea Castle St. Clair

Day 10: Nuwara Eliya – Bandarawella

Visit World’s End

Baker’s Fall

Train ride

Day 11: Bandarawella
 
Visit Temple
 
 
Rawana Ella (waterfall)
 
Small Adam’s Peak

Day 12: Bandarawella – Kataragama – Tissamaharama

Visit some sacret Temple

Tsunami Alarm

Day 13: Tissamaharama – Hikkaduwa Beach
 
Safari
 
Beach
 
Safari part II
 
Arrival at Hikkaduwa Beach
Hikkaduwa beach
Hikkaduwa beach
Sunset @ Hikkaduwa beach
Sunset @ Hikkaduwa beach
Stilt fisher
Stilt fisher

Day 14: Hikkaduwa Beach

Day at the beach

Sleep at Hikkaduwa Beach Hotel

Day 15: Hikkaduwa Beach – Negombo

Leave from beach to a hotel in Negombo

Day 16: Katunayake – Colombo – Amsterdam

Trucks

In Sri Lanka you have the typical colorful trucks. I really liked them. You have mainly 2 different types of trucks, with or without nose. You see them everywhere and mostly they are honking a lot, certainly when they need to pass or overtake. But overall, traffic was normal and acceptible. Nothing to compare to other countries where we have been, like Nepal (Kathmandu) or India (Hyderabad).

Typical truck type 1
Typical truck type 2

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